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Denmark to run anti-refugee advertisements

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Integration Minister Inger Støjberg. Photo: Keld Navntoft/Scanpix
08:45 CEST+02:00
The government plans to launch an information campaign in foreign newspapers to deter refugees in response to human smugglers publishing comparative information on refugee benefits in EU countries.

Integration Minister Inger Støjberg said on Thursday that she is prepared to run advertisements in foreign newspapers that will contain information aimed at deterring refugees from coming to Denmark.

The announcement was made shortly after Jyllands-Posten revealed the contents of a document that human smugglers use to help asylum seekers compare the different levels of benefits in Europe.

See also: Smugglers help refugees compare welfare benefits

The document compares monthly waiting times for family reunification as well as the monetary amount of monthly benefits that are available to refugees in countries including Denmark, Germany and Sweden. 

“There is something strange about the fact that a refugee would travel through several countries before ending up in Denmark, Norway, Sweden or Germany,” Støjberg told DR.

Støjberg said that the document vindicates the Venstre government's decision to cut benefits to asylum seekers by up to 45 percent shortly after taking power, which critics argued would do nothing to stem the flow of refugees. Now she wants to make sure that human smugglers and potential refugees get the message loud and clear. 

“The ads will contain factual information on the halving of benefits as well as other restrictions that we will be enacting. That kind of information spreads very quickly,” Støjberg told DR.

See also: Denmark may introduce more asylum restrictions

The Danish People's Party made a similar proposal last week, although instead of newspaper ads they wanted the government to launch a video campaign clearly telling refugees to stay away, akin to the one developed by the Australian government.

The proposal was heavily criticized however, leading Venstre spokesman Jakob Ellemann-Jensen to dismiss the idea as 'un-Danish'.
 
“I don't think the Australian video is an example to replicate in Denmark. The video is a bit tough and I don't think it is a Danish way to communicate. It's fine if it works in Australia, but I can't immediately see it being used in Denmark,” Ellemann-Jensen told Politiko.

Despite her party's criticism of the proposed video, Støjberg said that a newspaper campaign will be put in motion, although when and where is still in question.

“It could be in countries such as Turkey and other places that human smugglers keep an eye on,” Støjberg told DR.

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The ultimate goal of the campaign is to spread to social media where such information can be rapidly disseminated.

Denmark saw its asylum numbers nearly double in 2014, with 14,815 people arriving in the course of the year compared to 7,557 asylum seekers in 2013. A report from the Danish Immigration Service last month showed that 2015 is on pace to be yet another record year

Per capita, Denmark took in the sixth highest number of asylum applications in 2014. But due to its opt-out on EU Justice and Home Affairs, it is not participating in the European plan to redistribute refugees even though it could end up with Denmark taking in fewer numbers than it does now. 

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